PLAID PACK: Local doctor dismisses claims talcum powder causes ovarian cancer

Following a multimillion dollar settlement for a woman claiming Johnson and Johnson's baby powder caused her ovarian cancer, a local oncologist weighs in on the possible connection.

"I have a hard time believing that talcum power is one of the causes for ovarian cancer," Dr. Walter Gajewski said. "I don't buy it."

Gajewski, an ovarian cancer specialist at New Hanover Regional Medical Center, says talcum powder has been linked to ovarian cancer for decades.

"I can remember in medical school and residency having the discussion of whether talcum powder was considered a risk factor for ovarian cancer," he said. "Within the cancers, you see little calcifications under the microscope and those calcifications look like talc that's in the powder so the connection was well maybe women using talcum powder would ascend through their system through the uterus and tubes and through the abdominal cavity and then cause an irritation enough to cause the cancer."

The American Cancer Society says that studies on talcum powder and ovarian cancer "have been mixed, with some studies reporting a slightly increased risk and some reporting no increase."

Recent conclusions say "for any individual woman, if there is an increased risk, the overall increase is likely to be very small."

A Los Angeles jury recently sided with Eva Echeverria who says Johnson and Johnson failed to warn customers about talc's possible cancer risk, awarding her $417 million.

Johnson and Johnson plans to appeal.

Meanwhile, Gajewski says women should be more focused on a link between a genetic mutation and ovarian cancer.

"If there's a strong history of ovarian or breast cancer in your family, the person who has the cancer generally should be tested for BRCA mutations and if they're positive then they can potentially pass that on to their children," Gajewski said.

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